The Syracuse City School District has told 86 teachers and staff they won't have a job next year. At the same time, the school board is considering giving superintendent Sharon Contreras a $10,000 performance bonus. Contreras makes $204,000 a year but under her contract she is eligible for the bonus if she meets goals set by the board.
The head of the Syracuse Teacher's Union recently wrote a letter to the Syracuse Post Standard suggesting that Contreras should refuse the bonus if it was offered by the board.
Several parents, including Rachielle Scrivens from Syracuse, told CNYCentral that paying Contreras a bonus while teachers are being laid off is unacceptable.
"I don't think she needs it. The money could be spent better elsewhere, maybe on the kids, maybe on things that are lacking within the school," said Scrivens. "You know, that could be somebody's salary."
CNYCentral was told Contreras was not available to talk about the bonus issue after Tuesday night's school board meeting.
Test scores have improved in Sharon Contreras' first year as superintendent. She also came to an agreement with the district's unions on an evaluation system for teachers and administrators. School board president Stephen Swift understands the issue has generated controversy but Swift says no decision has been made yet.
"I think there's not a lot of understanding of it and I don't want to get into any details before we go through the process and decide what we're going to do," said Swift.
School board commissioner Calvin Corridors noted that Contreras has not received any other raises and her only opportunity comes from the incentive bonus.
"For this to be as discussed as it is, is interesting to me. If a person does their job and shows improvement and there's an incentive that's contractually obligated, it's one that certainly should be considered," said Corridors. "But no decision has been made by the board, we'll have to take a look at it."
Corridors and Swift said that they think a decision on the bonus will be made soon but no exact timetable was in place.